Recent figures indicate that over 70 per cent of the farmers in Uganda are smallholder farmers based in rural areas, whose operations are greatly affected by; climate change, weak digital skills, limited access to product knowledge along value chains, limited access to quality farm inputs, weak logistics systems, limited access to quality extension services, weak business intelligence, limited access to quality markets among others.
Therefore, the need for ICT based solutions in the agricultural sector can no longer be ignored since they have proven to improve farmers’ skills in the understanding of knowledge, enhances adherence to production protocols, improves farmer information-seeking behavior, and results in improved negotiation skills, better decision making and overall improved household income.
It is from this background, that Uganda National Farmers Federation (UNFFE) in partnership with Eight Tech Consults Limited and with kind support from Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) organized and conducted a Rollout Training of Trainers (ToTs) for the UNFFEICT4farmer Program www.unffeict4farmers.org with the major goal of increasing the uptake of ICT among smallholder farmers.
The regional capacity building trainings took place in Mukono, Mbarara, Mbale, Lira, and Arua Districts where participants from the Central, Western Eastern, Northern and West Nile region gathered respectively. A total of 80 participants from 45 selected District Farmers Associations were trained. The two-days training session introduced the ICT4farmers program to key stakeholders in the agriculture sector which included among others: farmers, farmer leaders and technical staff at District Farmers Associations (DFAs), District Local Government (DLG) officials and Media representatives. The sessions mainly oriented participants through the components and functionality of the UNFFEICT4farmers system using both the Web-based digital platform which can be accessed on this URL: www.app.unffeict4farmers.org and Mobile Application (unffeict4farmers) downloadable from Google play store.
UNFFE using the ICT4farmers programme is also offering free agricultural courses online through www.academy.unffeict4farmers.org and a toll-free call centre on 0800 209003. These new digital change agents will take lead in training other District Farmers Associations in this ICT programme.
The overall objective of our programme is to contribute to accelerated uptake of ICT4Agric innovations by various actors especially smallholder farmers in a number of value chains covering crops, animals, and fisheries.
Any ICT innovations in this current fourth industrial revelation and the development agenda where ICT is seen as a major driving tool addressed under several policy instruments such as the National Development Plan 3, the policy on ICT for Agricultural, to mention but a few. The UNFFEICT4Farmers programme presents a unique opening for smallholder farmers to make agriculture more attractive and desirable especially among the youth. Such innovations will in the short and long term contribute to agricultural growth and development in the country.